General Rules and Regulations for Headstones

By August 17, 2022 No Comments
Granite tombstone with cross symbol engraving in soil with surrounding yellow flowers

Understandably most people don’t spend their life dwelling on the kind of headstones they will choose for family members or the kind they want for themselves after they pass. In most cases, they think that the choice is entirely up to them and they’ll just pick whatever they feel is best when the time comes. In reality, each graveyard has its own rules and regulations regarding what types of memorials it will accept, the materials involved, acceptable symbology and what kind of text is allowed. Should your choice of gravemarker run afoul of these rules you will need to rethink it in order to bring it into line with cemetery regulations.

How to Find Out What Kind of Headstones for Graves are Acceptable in Colorado

People in Littleton are often surprised when they learn that the gravemarker they had in mind for their loved one is rejected by cemetery management. They feel they have paid for the plot, it’s their loved one buried there, they should have the right to commemorate that loved one in any way they see fit.

The thing is, cemeteries are in their own way communities. Communities of the deceased visited by bereaved family and friends who each have a right to expect that a certain sense of decorum will prevail inside the cemetery boundaries, just as it does in the neighborhood where they live. And because memorials typically last for centuries the only way to ensure mutual respect over time is to impose rules upfront regarding gravestones and other burial markers.

When in Doubt Ask the Funeral Home Director

Rules governing grave markers in public cemeteries are sometimes a bit more strict than those in private cemeteries. One reason for this is that there is a greater diversity of cultures, religions and ethnicities represented in public cemeteries and they all need to be respected. On the other hand, some private cemeteries are quite open-minded about what they will allow. Although if the cemetery caters to people of a certain religion or those that share a particular cultural background the rules can also be quite strict because the cemetery is expected to express the funerary dictates of the religious doctrine or culture.

So unless you have experience with a given cemetery there is no way to know ahead of time what their rules may be regarding gravestones. The best thing to do is to talk to the funeral director and ask them some or all of the following questions:

Are there regulations governing what type of gravestones are allowed in the chosen cemetery?

Grave markers come in a variety of shapes and sizes from modestly-sized flat stone markers, to flat markers that are slanted or beveled, to upright stones of all shapes and sizes. Grave ledgers are another popular type of marker that is laid flat but covers the entire burial plot. It is likely the cemetery in question has established rules and regulations regarding what type of headstone they will allow.

Are there rules governing what color a headstone can be?

Granite is available in a variety of colors but, while not common, it is possible that the cemetery will have rules governing what colors a headstone can be. In most cases, you will likely be alright if you choose black, red or gray. However, you may run up against cemetery rules if you choose a non-standard color. So if you have an uncommon color in mind make sure you ask the funeral director if it will pass muster with the cemetery.

Can I place a headstone with a flower vase?

A quick tour of local cemeteries will reveal that grave markers with bronze or granite flower vases incorporated into the design are quite popular, even though they will increase headstone prices. However, they are not necessarily allowed in every cemetery for a variety of reasons. Before choosing a marker with a built-in vase make sure the cemetery in question will allow it.

What about photo memorials?

In recent years porcelain photographs of the deceased have become popular additions to gravestones in Colorado and throughout the world. A photo is printed onto special paper that allows it to be lifted off and affixed to a porcelain base. Porcelain photos are a great way to memorialize a loved one at their best but they are not permitted in all cemeteries. Some graveyards are wary that the porcelain may get broken by falling branches or vandals, in which case it would present a safety hazard. Before you add a photo to a headstone make sure you ask the funeral director about it.

When Can You Place a Headstone?

There is a common misconception that gravestones are placed as soon as the grave is filled in. This is not the case. In most instances, loved ones will need to wait a minimum of 6 weeks before they are able to erect a memorial, even a simple one like a small flat marker. For larger stones, the wait may be as much as several months. Why is that? Because time must be given to allow the earth in the grave to settle properly. If not enough time is allotted the gravestone could and probably would, topple over as the ground beneath it shifted and settled.

If you have any questions feel free to ask the team at Mile High Memorials. If you are in Littleton you can find us by searching for “headstones near me,” or you can simply call us at 303-794-3443.